Coherent Turbulent Structures Across a Vegetation Discontinuity

  • Huang J
  • Cassiani M
  • Albertson J
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Abstract

The study of turbulent flow across a vegetation discontinuity is of significant interest as such landscape features are common, and as there is no available theory to describe this regime adequately. We have simulated the three-dimensional dynamics of the airflow across a discontinuity between a forest (with a leaf area index of 4) and a clearing surface using large-eddy simulation. The properties of the bulk flow, as well as the large-scale coherent turbulent structures across the forest-to-clearing transition and the clearing-to-forest transition, are systematically explored. The vertical transport of the bulk flow upstream of the leading edge gives rise to the enhanced gust zone around the canopy top, while the transport downstream of the trailing edge leads to the formation of a recirculation zone above the clearing surface. The large-scale coherent structures across the two transitions exhibit both similarities with and differences from those upstream of the corresponding transition. For example, the ejection motion is dominant over the sweep motion in most of the region 1 {\textless} z/h {\textless} 2 (h is the canopy height) immediately downstream of the trailing edge, much as in the forested area upstream. Also, the streamwise vortex pair, which has previously been observed within the canopy sublayer and the atmospheric boundary layer, is consistently found across both transitions. However, the inflection observed both in the mean streamwise velocity, as well as in the vertical profiles of the coherent structures in the forested area, disappears gradually across the forest-to-clearing transition. The coherence of the turbulence, quantified by the percentage of the total turbulence kinetic energy that the coherent structures capture from the flow, decreases sharply immediately downstream of the trailing edge of the forest and increases downstream of the leading edge of the forest. The effects of the ratio of the forest/clearing lengths under a given streamwise periodicity on flow statistics and coherent turbulent structures are presented as well.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Coherent structures
  • Forest edge
  • Large-eddy simulation
  • Proper orthogonal decomposition
  • Turbulence
  • Vegetation discontinuity

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Authors

  • J. Huang

  • M. Cassiani

  • J. D. Albertson

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